Here’s a soup that makes me smile. It’s a Sunday morning, I walk into the kitchen of my Italian friend’s mother and the whole place is filled with the smell of simmering stock. It’s not just chicken stock, that much is obvious. The Parmesan rinds that were saved up for this soup are floating in the stock and the give it a completely different dimension. Once you smell this soup, you will never forget it and believe me, just smelling it will make you happy. It has that effect on people.
Although this soup it is the height of simplicity, this is not an everyday soup, it’s a Sunday soup. In fact it was traditionally served as a first course on Easter Sunday. I say first course because a proper Italian lunch is not just starter, mains, dessert. It is a whole passeggiata of courses of which the pasta is just one starter! So be prepared to really eat if an Italian mama asked you to lunch. You are expected to eat two helping of everything!
La Bella Stracciatella
enough for 4 starters
- 1 litre good chicken stock
- 1 large piece of parmesan rind
- 4 eggs
- 5 Tbsp grated parmesan
- 1 Tbsp semolina
- a little salt
- black pepper, preferably freshly ground
We are going to reduce the chicken stock to about 800ml-850ml while we infuse it with the cheese rind and boil the egg in it, so it’s really just enough for 4 starters. You can leave the semolina out if you like, which will give you a more raggedy looking egg in the soup. Semolina makes it a little more crumbly and elegant, but it doesn’t really alter the taste.
Bring your stock to the boil and add the parmesan rind. Simmer for half an hour, then adjust the reasoning and turn off the heat until you are ready to finish the soup. Break the eggs into a bowl and whisk them with a fork to break them up completely. Add in the grated parmesan and whisk to mix in. Add one or two little pinches of salt.
Remove the parmesan rind from the stock and bring it back to the boil, then reduce to a simmer. Quickly stir the semolina into the eggs, pour the mix into a jug and slowly pour the eggs into the simmering soup. Simmer for just a minute and you’re ready to serve.